Makes Sense: Shouting Out “Free Bird!” at Concerts a Form of Tic Disorder

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – It is inevitable when you go to a live concert: Between songs someone in the crowd screams out “Free Bird!”  Well, according to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), shouting out Lynyrd Skynyrd’s signature song has officially been classified as a form of tic disorder.

“I love going to see live music but after hearing call after call for “Free Bird” I realized we had to sit down and think some more about this,” said Dr. Curtis Loew, self-described psychiatrist pseudo-extraordinaire.  “By the way, I’ve never heard anyone respond by actually playing ‘Free Bird.’”

Loew says screaming Lynyrd Skynyrd’s greatest song is a form of phonic tic.  “But what’s interesting is that it is the same tic over and over again without any manifestation of a motor tic,” he explained.  “With Tourettes syndrome, you see both motor and phonic tics, both being present for at least a year.  This isn’t quite that.” 

Another conundrum is it is hard to define the duration of the “Free Bird” tic as it is solely dependent on the frequency of attendance of live concerts.  If a person doesn’t go to a single concert in a calendar year, no “Free Bird.”  But if that same person goes to 150 concerts in a year, that’s a lot of “Free Bird.” 

As it stands, the APA has called the condition a situation-specific tic disorder, though it’s unofficial name is “Free Bird” tic disorder. 

We asked Loew then, is there a cure?

“The condition is self-limited,” Loew answered.  “Typically the person says it once and it’s over and done with.  But if that person is lucky, the band plays a cover of ‘Free Bird.’  Or even better, you’re actually at a Lynyrd Skynyrd show and they play it to close the show.  If that’s the case, it’s better than a cure: it’s a 14-minute piece of heaven.” 

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